The Turks say that Istanbul is like a prostitute – beautiful, but dangerous.
I decided to portray the intensely stimulating mix of beauty and danger, which so characterises Istanbul, in my novel “Evil Eye.”
I take the heroine, Celeste, on an adventure full of threats, violence and narrow escapes which makes its way though gold-filled palaces, the dazzling colours and heady scents of the bazaars, the eerie old harem packed with jewels and opium hookahs, the mosques lit by shafts of sunlight and, of course, the deep blue bosphorus which flows through the heart of the city.
I lived in Istanbul for a year when I had just finished university, in the attic room of a beautiful old mansion overlooking the Bosphorus. The call to prayer, from a minaret right outside my bedroom window, blared out so loudly each dawn that I sprang to my feet suffering a near heart-attack. Then, every day, my senses would be bombarded by the colours, noises, smells and the crowds of people rushing through their busy days.
Like Celeste in my novel, I was thrown in at the deep end in Istanbul. I survived being held at gunpoint, having my bag violently snatched form me, and even a bout of cholera. Yet the sheer beauty of Istanbul always made up for it.
These photos show some of the places in Istanbul where “Evil Eye” unfolds. They include a couple of pictures of me as a very young lady.
Evil Eye by Veronica Di Grigoli
Celeste is working in Istanbul, misty Turkish city of mosques, bazaars and palaces with the sparkling blue sea flowing through its centre. Yet her dream adventure abroad is turning out to be more like a nightmare.
Her rich students at the swanky language school seem more interested in their manicures and designer clothes than in her English lessons.
The morose, stubbly caretaker of the orphanage, where Celeste volunteers, stares at her beloved boys like a vulture sizing up his next meal.
Worst of all, Celeste’s landlady in a beautiful mansion overlooking the sea is doing a bad job of hiding a shady secret: she lets slip puzzling comments that don’t make sense, leaves sinister charms around the house, and puts magic spells in places she should not be going.
One day, Celeste’s favourite boy goes missing from the orphanage, and Celeste discovers that she herself is the target of her landlady’s dark plot. She embarks on a frantic search through crowded bazaars and dangerous alleys, desperate to find one small boy lost in a city of ten million.
Can Celeste find the child – and save herself – before her landlady destroys her?
This mystery adventure which unfolds along the shores of the Bosphorus will entice fans of Khaled Hosseini, Alexander McCall Smith and Jason Goodwin.
Evil Eye is available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon stores worldwide.